Israel Officially Appoints Former N.Y. Consul General Dani Dayan as Yad Vashem Head

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Dani Dayan at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh following the 2018 attack.
Dani Dayan at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh following the 2018 attack.Credit: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

The government approved on Sunday the appointment of Israel's former consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, as the next chairman of Yad Vashem, the country’s official institution for Holocaust remembrance.

Dayan, 65, previously served as the head of Yesha, the umbrella group for the settlement movement.

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Dayan thanked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, saying that "leading Yad Vashem is not a job – it is a mission that I'm taking on with awe and compassion."

The former consul added that "we have a duty to continue to research and teach, to document and disseminate, to establish the facts and to reject the distortions, to remember and commemorate the horrors of the Holocaust.

As the years go by, the task becomes more difficult but also more important, and I am determined to succeed in it together with the dedicated staff at Yad Vashem."

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar said at a cabinet meeting that he is confident that Dayan's "experience and skills, including at the international level, will make an important contribution against attempts to erase, minimize and distort the memory of the Holocaust."

Dayan was nominated for the appointment by Shasha-Biton, but still required confirmation by a special committee and then by the entire Israeli government before it became official.

Dayan will replace Avner Shalev, who was the chairman of Yad Vashem from 1993 until his retirement at the end of last year. Since his retirement, Yad Vashem has not had a permanent chairman for almost a year.

Then-Higher Education Minister Zeev Elkin proposed in November the appointment of former and MK Effi Eitam to the post, whose nomination was strongly opposed by prominent Holocaust researchers and by Colette Avital, head of the Israeli umbrella organization of Holocaust survivors. Eitam’s nomination unraveled after Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who held the same position in the previous government, came out against it.

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